Stop, Collaborate, and Listen…

Some people just don’t have the time to sit down and read. Some people prefer to hear the story read to them in an entertaining manner. Whatever the reason, coming soon-ish (like, early 2021, I’d say), I’ll be starting production on turning my self-published books into audiobooks!

Why so long a wait? Well, for one thing, I have to learn how to edit the stuff I record. LOL But also, I’m going to be taking on extra responsibilities at work for the next two months that will take up a lot of my time (not to mention add to my stress), and I want to give this project the proper time and dedication. I won’t start recording in earnest until Thanksgiving weekend at the earliest, and I’m giving myself at least a month or two to figure out how to edit my oopsies.

Yep, you read that right: I’m going to be doing the narration! If it works out, I might even do a few for my publisher. I’ve already been given the offer to audition for the next two Abnormalverse audiobooks, as well as another title from my publisher.

There will definitely be a learning curve. Thanks to the live readings and video recordings of readings that I’ve been doing lately, I am better at reading my writing out loud. I don’t rush it like I did the first few times I did live readings, and though I still stammer and stutter and occasionally stumble over my words, that can be edited out.

I’m not sure which title I’ll start with. I was thinking of starting with Whispers of Death, as that was my first novel, but who knows? I might do a newer title instead. We’ll see.

I’m excited for this new potential creative outlet, but I’m also nervous about it. Near crippling social anxiety has made me leery of performing in front of people, but since I’ll be locked away in our guest bedroom for these recordings, I think I’ll do okay. I won’t even have to put on makeup!

I’ve got almost two whole months to get ready. To psych myself up.

I can do this!

The Big, Bad Wolves Are Coming…

Just two more days until Pact with the Pack is live!!

Okay, so maybe less than that for the paperback, depending on how fast or slow Amazon is with publishing it. LOL I realized that tomorrow was just going to be too crazy with work to spend the proper time formatting, so I went ahead and formatted/submitted the paperback version today. Not that people who buy the paperback will get to read it any sooner, but…..eh.

I’ve heard from a couple of ARC readers already, and so far, reviews are good. One author even went so far as to say that I made her feel like an amateur! I’m still kind of blown away by that one, but hey, take the compliment, right?

I can’t wait for the paperback to be approved, so I can order my author copies, some copies to sign, and some for giveaways/etc.

I don’t know why, but the excitement is real no matter how many books/novellas I put out. It’s like, I wrote this. This story came from inside me, and there are people out there who want to read it.

Blows me away every time.

I’ve got some final little things to get ready for the big release day “party” on Tuesday. I’m having a great group of authors do some hour-long takeover blocks in my Facebook group, Mullican’s Maniacs, and the lineup is pretty sweet. Check this list:

Some may be familiar names, some may be new to you, but they’re all great people, and that’s what matters. I’m super excited to see what they have in store! I’ll go head off to get my own posts ready…see y’all there!

Off-the-rails but still on track

As a creative type with bipolar disorder, I’m intimately familiar with the fluctuations in creative drive and inspiration. After spending months on hold with all things creative as my last book, Fed by the Fae, mocked me with its stalled state, I broke through my block and powered through to The End, and now I’m almost a quarter of the way through the next book, Dealing with Demons. If I can write a little over 1500 words a day through the end of the month (which really isn’t all that much), I’ll be on track to finish Dealing‘s first draft and move on to the draft of the fourth in the Abnormal series.

Except….

Now I’m back on an embroidery/garb kick. I want to make new Viking garb for myself and my husband, and I have a few things I want to embroider as well.

Oh, crap. Here comes the ADHD/bipolar whirlwind of flitting between different pinpoints of focus.

I really want to finish Dealing on time. I am determined to get these three books out by the end of the year, and with Pact with the Pack releasing a week from tomorrow and Fed by the Fae in temporary time out before primary edits and revisions, I’m on track to meet that goal.

But–but–but–there’s also a cup cover I’m planning to embroider and make for a friend. And a commission for another friend’s elevation. And I have been meaning to make another apron dress and underdress using some really nice fabric I have. And…

Damnit. Focus, AJ, focus!

I haven’t written anything yet today, but it’s still early. I have time to get my 1500+ words in, and since it’s a holiday that has my office closed, I have all day in which to write them. Hell, I might even pass 1500 and just write until I’m at a good stopping point. Or I might take a nap. Who knows?

I’ve also got a last-minute webcast to record. (It had previously been scheduled to record a couple weeks ago, but life happened. Long story.) I enjoy the webcasts, but it’s getting harder to fit them into my schedule. The ol’ day job still has me by the non-balls, after all, and that won’t change any time soon.

Well, I guess if I’m going to stay on track with anything, I need to stop blogging and get doing.

The Good, the Bad, and the Frustrating

The Good: I’m a chapter and a half away from finishing my latest WIP (maybe even a day or two before my 3rd self-imposed deadline!)…and I couldn’t be more relieved that things are turning out. I somehow wrote myself out of the mess I’d gotten myself (and my characters) into, and now it’s just a matter of tying things up and setting it aside to simmer before I go back and edit/revise before sending it to my official editor (good ol’ Mom) before MORE edits and revisions.

The Bad: Work is about to explode in the worst way, with one manager leaving and the new manager who’s taking over being gone for over two months–leaving me in charge during that time.

The Frustrating: When I found out about the outgoing manager’s departure, it was kind of a slap in the face, because unlike last time the position became available, I was given no opportunity to apply or interview for it. None. Zero. Passed right on over, do not pass Go, do not collect any career advancement, straight on to your normal daily life. Except for the taking over for the incoming manager’s maternity leave.

That part wouldn’t be so bad, except I was reassured multiple times that it would be a three week deal. I thought that sounded odd for maternity leave, but I don’t have kids, so what do I know? Then, after turning in a request for time off for a few days for my husband’s birthday and repeatedly checking the schedule to see if it had been approved, I discovered the actual duration of the maternity leave…which plows straight through hubby’s October birthday all the way until after Thanksgiving.

Couldn’t someone have said something when I turned in the request? Y’know, something along the lines of “Hey, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to be the supervisor during that time. We just can’t spare you.” That would’ve been better than the “Uh-huh” and blank stare that I received when I turned in my request. (I might mention that I turned in the request twice, but the first request I guess got lost or something? I don’t know; I know I filled it out and put it on the current manager’s desk a couple weeks ago, and I know I never was given anything stating that it was declined, but again, the days off were never put in the schedule…hence the re-request.)

I just don’t get it. Why drop the bombshell that I’ll be in charge but not be promoted, spend all that time reassuring me that I’ll have people around to help out when I am in charge for those three weeks, only to extend my time at the helm without saying anything and deny my request for time off without a word?

I’m trying to hold things together. Keep my wits about me, keep my emotions as level as possible. It’s going to be a tenuous two months, that’s for sure. Some days I’ve been barely holding on as-is, before all the changes. Now? Now I won’t have the “luxury” of calling out if my anxiety is through the roof and out of control. I’ll have to buck up and go on in. No mental health days for me. No chance for a breather. And no telling what other changes await when I go in today. Monday. The week after.

I’ll survive it–I think. But it’s going to be rough.

Did anyone catch the number of that train??

I had trouble figuring out which project to work on after work tonight, so I made a list of what I need to get done this week…..and I have paralyzed myself with the sheer amount of work I have to get done!

It feels like I got run over by a freight train, and I have no clue where to start. There’s the draft of Fed by the Fae that needs to be finished ASAP, the line edits for Pact with the Pack that need to be done, the recording to do tomorrow for the GoIndieNow channel, the takeover of the Askew Ever After social media outlets this Saturday, the second, LIVE GoIndieNow stream Sunday, and, oh, yeah, my freaking day job…which has an added meeting this week that I’m dreading.

The day job stuff, at least, I can’t do outside of work, so there’s that. But where to begin on all the other stuff??? I have to get at least 471 words a day written on Fed by the Fae through the end of the month to make my latest deadline; the line edits should be quick, but they require more concentration than I have in me right now; I have to prepare for the discussion on the recording tomorrow; I need to make up graphics and think up things to share/do for the takeover; and I’m sure there’s something I should be doing for the live stream, but my fried brain can’t think of what.

I don’t know when life got so overwhelming, but it took me off-guard. So much to do in so little time, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda freaking out about it a little bit.

The little daydreamer corner of my brain wishes the writing-marketing-promotion stuff was all I had to worry about. Even when I’m at the day job, all the little writing-related things I have to do are bubbling in the back of my brain, nagging at me.

Too bad I suck at selling books. If I could just sell enough to make a semi-decent income, I could drop to part time. Or quit. But that’s a pipe dream of epic proportions, one that’s completely out of reach.

In times like these, despair hovers just below the surface. Am I destined to be less-than-mediocre? Will I ever find my footing?

I don’t doubt my writing ability; that’s solid. It’s the business side of it that scares the shit out of me, and that’s the side that I can’t afford to get help with. I can barely afford the bare bones things. I used birthday money to get business cards printed and to get some stickers made as promotional materials. I used some of it to send out giveaway prizes that I hadn’t set aside shipping money for yet. I should have used more of that money to set up ads in various places, but aside from a couple small Facebook ads, I’ve never done that, and the thought of it is daunting. So I ordered a lighter with my logo on it instead. Because damnit, it was my birthday money. I wanted to get something for me with it somewhere along the line.

(I mean, c’mon…with a tagline like “Words that ignite,” why wouldn’t I want a custom lighter?)

Of course, there’s also the two list-aiming box sets I’m in. The heat is rising on both of them as one nears release and the other struggles to gain ground. I had been hopeful that I would be able to get that coveted “USA Today Bestselling Author” title with one or both of these, but that feels like it’s slipping through my fingertips.

“Failure” might be too strong a word for how I feel about my writing career, but it’s inching closer and closer to that.

Maybe it’s partly Coronapocalypse. Maybe this whole pandemic insanity has just fucked the economy that bad. Maybe it’ll pick back up after a vaccine is found and the cases start dropping–or maybe it won’t. Maybe I’m destined to stay in my dead-end job, with no hope of advancement and less hope of escape.

Should I add “search Indeed for something else” to my ever-growing list of “shit I gotta get done”? I don’t know. All I know is this: the one thing I really want to do, the on thing I had a taste of during my quarantine, isn’t enough to sustain me. It’s not enough to get me where I need to be, and that means slaving away, hating myself a little more each weekday, taking more anti-anxiety meds just to make it through the days, trudging in to the office and counting the hours/minutes/seconds until I can clock out and go the fuck home.

Well, this post has rambled on to a worse train wreck than the GIF I posted at the start of it! I’m glad I have this informal writing outlet to counterbalance the more structured creative writing projects I’ve got going on. Maybe I need to use this outlet more often!

It’s dinner time, anyway. Then some TV to unwind. Then time to crash like the proverbial freight trains.

One year away from the answer to life, the universe, and everything

Well, it may not be a milestone year, but it’s my birthday yet again! Forty-one years today, and I don’t feel too bad about it.

Have I accomplished everything I’ve wanted in life? Well, no, but I’m not done living. Have I accomplished more than I thought I would? Absolutely! I never thought I’d really be an international bestselling author. I never thought I’d have as many books and novellas published as I do now. I never thought I’d be traditionally published. All of those are great accomplishments, and not too shabby for finding my calling late in life. Sure, I’m struggling with the marketing aspect of it all, but I’m clawing myself up tooth & nail to get out there and get known.

Did I meet my self-imposed deadline for Fed by the Fae‘s draft? Um…no…but I’m okay with that. I’ve been pushing myself too hard on that, and I need to slow my roll and figure out where things are going there.

I work a half day today, and I have a doctor’s appointment (that reminds me, I need to verify if that’s a phone appointment or if I have to go in…), but I still plan on treating myself to something nice with the birthday money my in-laws gave me, as well as hanging with my family for dinner. A nice, chill day, for the most part.

I suppose I could fluff this post with introspection on the last 41 years. I could wax philosophic on how I’ve grown as a person and all that jazz.

Or I could just say “Happy birthday to me” and leave it at that. LOL

Have a great day, everyone! I’m hoping to have a good one myself. 🙂

Time off from being off

Okay, remember my plan to get some writing done this weekend? Y’know, so I can get my draft finished by Tuesday?

Yeahhhhhh… That didn’t happen.

I’m not upset, though. I’ve had a fun weekend so far. My husband and I took Friday off, we had a leisurely start on our trip to Tucson to visit with friends. We did some window shopping (and some regular shopping), and then we stopped at our friends’ house. A nice dinner out (socially responsibly, of course), and some drinks before bed.

Then yesterday I slept in so much that I didn’t have any time to really get into writing before we went on an adventure to the mall for arts and crafts (with wine).

I painted a sugar skull style design on it. Took me HOURS, but I had a load of fun, and I’m so grateful that my friend recommended the place (and paid for my art time and my drink). Here’s the result:

Not perfect, but I’m happy with how it turned out, so that puppy’s going on my wall when we get home.

There was some more shopping (and unnecessary spending of money), but again, it was fun. We came back to our friends’ house, bummed around, had an amazing dinner, and swam in their pool for a bit before playing a card game and having dessert.

So, was this weekend wasted? I don’t think so. In a couple of hours we’ll go run some errands, then it’s home again for laundry and stuff before we go back to work Monday, but overall I think this weekend getaway was a good thing for my mental health. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.

So what if I don’t finish my draft Tuesday? I’m enjoying my pre-birthday time, and that’s what matters.

I just gotta remember to let myself be me sometimes.

Deadly Lines

Quarantine is a double-edged blade, it seems.

When I was stuck home, off-work and ordered to “avoid human contact,” my writing was on fire. I knocked out three novellas and a full novel in those five weeks, plus started another novel. Now that I’ve been back to work a couple of months, though…

…I’m still on that second novel, with a little under 10k words left to my 50k draft goal. *Sigh*

Muses can be damned inconvenient. I’ve reset my self-imposed deadline twice now, and each time it ticks closer, rather than pushing to meet, it I freeze and shove it in the corner of my mind. Not productive, that’s for sure.

Part of it is the fact that I am, indeed, back to almost full-time day job work, so that’s 30+ hours less of productive time during the week. When I was stuck at home, I used my ~8 hours of “work” time on weekdays to write. I’ve got a time keeper app that I used to “clock in” and “clock out” every time I started or stopped working on writing. I limited myself to eight hours a day max because my husband was upset that I was spending so much time writing, so out of respect for his concerns I cut reigned it in and did other things when he was off the clock. (My husband works from home, so there was no way to write only when he wasn’t around, except for my usual few stolen hours in the early morning while he sleeps.)

Part of it is just plain writer’s block. It’s like the floodgates were open so long that I drained the levy, and now I’ve gotta wait for a few good monsoon rains to refill it before I siphon off again. Which sucks, but I’ve tried damn near every method that’s been thrown at me to break through, and still I feel like I’m having to physically wrestle this damn draft out of my mind.

I’ve got a three-day weekend this weekend–taking an extra day today in honor of my upcoming birthday–but I’ll be visiting with friends for much of it, so there goes that time. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be glad to see them and hang out. I just know it’s that much less time that I can spend on this draft.

Despite all this block, I’m still determined to draft, edit, revise, and publish all three novels in this trilogy before the end of the year. Things are looking hairy for the 3rd installment, given that I’ve only gotten 541 tentative words written on that one, but I don’t want to give up. I want to get this writing going, get productive, to push myself and achieve all that I’ve set out to do in the coming years.

Deadlines suck. They’re stressful and maddening, yet I have to set myself some structure if I’m going to do this author thing on a more regular basis.

Will I ever be able to be a full-time author? At this rate, no…but if I can find the magic formula for maintaining focus while working full-time and having a marriage and socially-responsible social life, then maybe, just maybe, I can have the career I want, not just the one I fell into.

Inside and Out

Smiling means you’re okay, right? Being still and quiet means everything’s fine…right? Except when it’s not okay, when it’s not fine.

Oftentimes, for someone with chronic anxiety attacks (in this example, we’ll use me), the outside does not match the inside.

Let’s take right now. I’m sitting here at my laptop, outwardly calm as can be, but inside? Inside, a storm rages. Inside, my heart races. My chest hurts. My mind is in turmoil. Inside, my gut roils with might-bes or could-have-beens or even won’t-ever-happen-but-the-idea-of-it-coming-to-be-terrifies-mes. Inside, I wanna puke. I wanna do something to rid myself of this torture…but aside from taking my anti-anxiety med (which I already did–hours ago), there’s nothing to do…nothing beneficial, anyway. Trying not to think about it isn’t working, trying to distract myself with other activities to keep my mind occupied isn’t working, and y’know what else isn’t working?

Me.

Yeah, I called out. I rarely call out from work, even if I’m not feeling the greatest, but after forcing myself to work through dozens of these attacks, I realized this morning that I just can’t today. I can’t torture myself by dragging my ass into work and sludging through potentially eight or more hours of this nightmare.

Could I put on a “happy face” for the patients? Probably. But that’s not going to take away the inside problem. The core of the issue. All it’s going to do is escalate to the point of–well, I don’t really want to think where it’ll end up if I keep pushing myself.

I kinda want to cut. Just a little, just enough to bleed and release some of this tension. I’m not gonna. But I want to. I think if I pushed myself today, I might have done just that.

Tomorrow morning, when they open, I’ll probably call my psychiatrist. See if there’s anything that can be done that I’m not already doing. New treatment, maybe? Change of meds? I don’t know. Something.

What brought on this epiphany of self-preservation? What made me break my cycle of just grinning and bearing it and dying a little more inside each time? I think maybe it was the realization that yes, I am killing a piece of myself each time I do that. Each time I put on the happy face (or at least the “I’ll be okay” mask) and trudge on through those doors into eight hours of manic panic.

Not to mention, panic + surgical mask that’s a little claustrophobic + hectic work environment = AAAAAAAAHHH!!!! (<– That’s a scream of terror, btw.)

I don’t plan on doing this often. Calling out, I mean. I have no control–yet–over the panic attacks. They come when they come, and they last how long they last. Going on five or six hours now, if anyone’s keeping count. And it’s barely eight a.m.

Maybe my doc will have some ideas tomorrow. I’m almost half tempted to listen to the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) crap that I’ve discounted in the past. Y’know, the ol’ “think happy thoughts and you’ll be happy” shtick. I’m still quite skeptical when it comes to that, but desperate times call for crackpot measures sometimes.

Gonna take some time to sit and embroider for a while. Maybe the repetitive, mindless activity will calm me. If not, at least I’ll be sitting still and not raising my already-skyrocketed heart rate.